Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist March 2013 Contents 28 Australian Pharmacist March 2013 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
EARLY CAREER PHARMACIST FOCUS
Pharmacist safety in the
By Lisa Kouladjian
Lisa Kouladjian is a community
pharmacist and PSA NSW Branch
Recently an unfortunate event occurred at one of the pharmacies where I work
and it prompted me to put pen to paper.
The incident involved a robbery just before
closing time where a quantity of prescription
drugs was stolen and a pharmacist was
threatened. This incident did not happen
to me; however the early career pharmacist
involved was very distraught and shaken.
Being a close colleague, the incident
made me think: 'How could this have been
avoided?' At the back of my mind I knew
these things happen to the best of us.
Pharmacists cannot afford to be complacent.
Some pharmacists have luckily never
experienced robbery, armed hold-ups or
even security threats and fall into the trap of
thinking, 'that will never happen to me'.
Unfortunately, in the criminal world, the
vulnerabilities of pharmacists are exploited
-- sometimes without the pharmacist being
even slight aware of it.
Some pharmacists, particularly early career
pharmacists, may have to do work shifts
with odd hours and in unusual workplaces.
These may include working till late at night,
very early in the morning, working alone, or
in a big pharmacy with staff spread out in the
pharmacy, or even extended trading hours
for summer months. All these factors and
more are taken advantage of by thieves.
On the brighter note, there are many
resources and organisations that pharmacists
can refer to for ensuring risks in working
environments are minimised. Some of these
resources are available from Guild Insurance,
Pharmaceutical Defence Limited and the
Pharmacists' Support Service (see page 32).
Guild Insurance has many resources
available for all pharmacists and pharmacies
to help with proactive risk management.
The Riskequip website can be used to identify
key areas of risk where solutions can be
offered. The website even contains Security
and Safety Risks Self Q & As designed to
identify how well you are managing these
risks. All the resources can be easily accessed
from the Riskequip website: www.riskequip.
Leanne Toby, Professional Risk and
Development Manager at Guild Insurance,
emphasises that the pharmacist must be
seen as the leader with the responsibility
to directing the culture and standards
of practice within the workplace. 'In an
environment with increased risk retail
staff follow your lead and this can make a
The director of Pharmaceutical Defence
Limited in NSW, Albert Regoli says; 'Issues
such as this highlight the need for the focus
in the pharmacy workplace to be on safety
procedures. All safety processes should be
updated and revised regularly, especially
with new staff. Pharmacies accredited with
the Quality Care Pharmacy Program contain
valuable guidelines on safety standards and it
is wise to refer to these. All pharmacies must
understand the importance of refreshing
safety procedures with their staff, continually
updating these for maximum protection and
to minimise risk.'
The Pharmacist Support Service (PSS) is a free
service run by pharmacists for pharmacists.
The service, which provides support over
the phone (1300 244 910 between 8.00
am and 11.00 pm every day of the year), is
designed to help with work-related stress,
trauma from a hold-up, professional and
personal concerns. In addition to being
a listening ear, the volunteer counsellors
provide information, support and referrals
to appropriate services at times of need.
More information can be found at: www.psa.
Kay Dunkley, PSS program coordinator,
recommends that every pharmacist add the
PSS phone number -- 1300 244 910 -- to their
phone, 'as you never know when you may
need to call'.
When we practice pharmacy, we focus
on providing great pharmacy services.
We should not take workplace security for
granted and should always be aware so as
to not put ourselves or staff members at
security risks. With these tools and services,
we can develop good habits to minimise
distressing situations, and know there is
someone there to hear us if it does.
Some risk management tips
• Reduce stock ordering of high risk
medications e.g. pseudoephedrine
products, schedule 8 medicines,
• Unpack and put away orders quickly --
out of sight, out of mind
• Ensure 'drugs safe' keys are not visible
More information is available from Risk
Alert Fact Sheets from the Guild Insurance
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